Debtors Prison An American Carol

All right, five months ago it is Christmas time. As usual, there was a Christmas Carol movie is playing on a number of different cable stations. I think my three favorite are Bill Murray’s Scrooge, Vanessa Williams’ a Diva’s Christmas Carol and Patrick Steward`s, A Christmas Carol. I think Mr. Steward’s came closest to what Charles Dickens wanted to say. In each movie the main plot was pretty much the same, old greedy Ebenezer Scrooge or a Scrooge type character who refuses to part with a single coin and was out to squeeze every last possible coin from poor souls no matter how or why they got into debt. It did not matter what damage or suffering his greed caused. All that mattered was putting that shiny coin into his pocket.
With that in mind, one of his favorite things to do in getting that coin, in the book, was to buy the debt of others have the unfortunate debtor arrested and jailed as a debt dodge. It didn’t matter if they were employed trying to pay or not. Debt was an actual crime in the 18th and 19th centuries. With his victim in jail, in jail without a trail or due process, Ebenezer would seize and sell their homes, furniture anything with the remotest monetary value, turning the debtors ill parents, wives and children out to suffer in the streets. You know in the real world of the 19th century single and or widowed women with children just as often wound up in debtor’s prison as men did. Debtor’s children and wives were often sent to workhouses and orphanages. Places that were too often a half a step from hell. That is if they weren’t just dumped on the streets after their house was seized.
That would be a scary world to live in wouldn’t it. Thank the Lord we don’t live in such times, right? After all it only happens in fiction and history books, right? I mean such a thing could happen not in today’s America, right?
Wrong Virginia! It is very real! And it could very well happen to you!
Just ask the Minnesota woman, who went to jail over a $250 owed for a credit card she didn’t know she had. Or The Illinois breast cancer survivor who was jailed over a $280 medical bill the hospital told her she didn’t owe. There was a woman sent to jail over a $60 phone bill owed by her husband dead 10 years. Let’s not forget the Kansas City guy who went to jail for $1000 he owed a furniture store after making payment arrangements. This last January a judge sentenced a man in Kenny Illinois to an ‘indefinite jail term’ over $300 he owed a lumber yard.
This doesn’t include to poor souls sent to jail because they didn’t have the money or a job to pay a fine. Only to discover that their $60 fine after 90 days spent in jail is now $6000. After all someone has to pay for the prison, prison guards’, food and uniforms.
After all didn’t one bund ant say “If you were a good person and a favorite of God you would have been born rich?”

SCRA or Service Member’s Relief Act

And so once again, I am a Paralegal I am not a Lawyer. So this is in no way be taken as legal advice. This is legal information only. Also let us not forget when a lawyer or a paralegal becomes your problem becomes an ISSUE.
As I said last week, with the end of the “Unemployment insurance gray train is over.” I think information about Bankruptcies will be very important. There are 3 types of bankruptcy most people will most often need.
As a veteran, I want to talk about is the SCRA or Service Member’s Civil Relief Act bankruptcy 1st. It was created in 1940 with the name of Soldiers and Sailor’s Act. This act can be found at 50 U.S.C. app. §§ 501 et seq.
The right to file for SCRA bankruptcy lasts the entire term of being on active duty plus 90 days. So if things crash or you discover things have crashed while out processing you can still ask for SCRA protection.
The major thing about the SCRA is a soldier or sailor’s wife or husband can start a SRCA for Bankruptcy protection. While a soldier or sailor is out of contact and or busy fighting for our country. Using the SRCA you can get help with debts like, past due credit cards, mortgage payments, back taxes and lease evictions.
It goes back to the promise we make our service personal, ‘If you risk all to protect us, we’ll protect the loved ones you leave behind.’
Okay, if your family’s major money maker is on active duty overseas or stationed someplace like and a creditors wants to file for a default on debt complaint. A creditor must file an affidavit proving that the military debtor is available. That they had made every effort to contact the active duty debtor and s/he has ignored the situation. This must be done before the judgment can be entered. If creditor does get the default judgment, you or your lawyer or legal service can file an affidavit telling the court that yes the military debtor was not available. This will stop things until the military debtor can be contacted. If the creditor challenges your affidavit the trustee can’t decide who is telling the truth h/she can appoint an attorney to protect the military debtor. Also another option the Trustee could make the creditor pay a bond before allowing a default go into collections.
SIDE-NOTE: A Bankruptcy Trustee 9.9 times out of ten is a lawyer employed by the Federal Bankruptcy courts. A Trustee more or less act as the judge in administering the bankruptcy cases making sure everything is done correctly.
SIDE-NOTE: A surety bond is an amount of money equal to the current market value of the property the Trustee is going to allow the creditor to take. The bond will be held by the court until the Trustee is sure no one was cheated.
Next week I am going to repost an article about presidential orders. Then I will move back to bankruptcy. Also I should have my scheduling problems worked out.

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Congress Bankruptcy

A letter to Congress

A letter to Congress 

I found this great post on facebook and it got me thinking. I guess a lot of tea party republicans seem to believe that that worst comes to worst the federal government can just file for bankruptcy and everything will be cool. I wonder if any of these lawyers ever read the laws concerning bankruptcy.

First none of the debts I have seen listed on the news is dischargeable under Chapter 7.   I don’t think the United States Government can even apply for bankruptcy protection.  Would congress have to go to the United Nations for Bankruptcy protection? There was an article on a MSN new website that said if we default China our largest debt holder would foreclose on the United States.

 

Court Costs/ Bankruptcy 2

As before I am not a Lawyer I am a Paralegal. Also when a Lawyer or a Paralegal becomes involved your problem becomes an issue.

WARNING! When you make your 1st, 2nd, 3rd or last filing fee payment make damn sure that check will clear. If it bounces, it is a $53 fine. Plus, neither Trustee nor your Lawyer is gonna be happy with you if it bounces. So if you run into trouble talk to your lawyer or with the bankruptcy court clerk. If you keep them in the loop, the clerk or your lawyer may be able to get a payment rescheduled. Just remember the entire fee must be paid in full 180 days after you started your Bankruptcy. Also remember, if you get into serious trouble and can’t make your payments, talk to your lawyer you may now qualify for the full fee waiver.

Now this is a piece of friendly not legal advice. If you decide to go down this road make damn sure you got every single debt you owe listed and turned over to your Lawyer. There have been cases of Clients who kept certain debts back from their lawyers because they thought could manage this debt on the sly. Unfortunately everything crashes after they receive their discharge and their lawyer is forced to go back into their bankruptcy filing and add this debt. This costs the client another $245 in court costs. Not to mention what their lawyer charges for getting the right forms filled out and convincing the Trustee that their client isn’t playing games.

Seriously amending or adding debt to a Bankruptcy Discharge is meant for unforeseeable financial emergencies. For example if you suddenly find yourself hit with several thousand in unexpected medical bills after receiving your discharge; you can get them added to your bankruptcy.

All right than moving on to Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. A Chap. 13, basically means, ‘ I messed up give some time to get my shit together.’ The cost of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy breaks down as follows, $235 filing fee plus a $46 miscellaneous administrative fee. Don’t worry you will have the same options to get the filing fee paid as is in a Chapter. 7. Except for the fee waiver, the waiver is for souls with absolutely no income.
The way a Chapter 13 works is once again you list all your debts and assets. Plus how much you can reasonably pay, not comfortably pay, reasonably pay. What happens is your payments are given to the Trustee and she/he will give your debtors a portion of that money. You also will have given the Trustee a workable plan to get your finances back to where they needs to be so you can handle your debt.
Side-Note: A reasonable payment is how much you can give the Trustee and still keep your family fed and housed. Plus enough for a dinner and a movie every now and then. A comfortable payment lets you go out partying every weekend.
More about the Costs of Captor 13 next week.

Court Costs/Bankruptcy

I am not a Lawyer I am a Paralegal. Also when a Lawyer or a Paralegal becomes involved your problem or concern becomes an issue.
Okay there are two types of Bankruptcy used by the average person. The most well-known are Chapter 7, and Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 basically means

‘I ain’t got it and I can’t get it. Back off.’

When your bankruptcy is filed with the courts your creditors do have to back off but each and every one of your creditors must be officially notified of your Bankruptcy. This usually means a certified or registered letter through the post office. Most honest debt collectors will treat a telephone call as notification until they receive the official notification. If you have a lawyer her/his Firm will take care of that for you. Unfortunately Chapter 7 bankruptcy is where a lot of your valuable assets/possessions could be liquidated/sold to repay your creditors. If you own your own home or have specialized equipment that you need to keep or find a job PLEASE GOD SEE A LAWYER!!!!! A good lawyer will be able to help you protect at least some if not all of such assists/possessions.
Example: You are a Plumber and you just bought a brand new Cadillac. Your lawyer will be able to protect your work van and equipment but that Caddy you are so pleased with. So, sorry your shiny Caddy has to go back to the dealer. You’ll have to make do with a used mini-van for about a year.
If you really behind the 8-ball and if you take the time to look you can find a Bankruptcy Firm and Legal Aid group that will be willing to make their fees a part of your Bankruptcy debt. (They get a tax write off which balances the taxes paid on fees they charge rich people) However you will still have to come up with the Filing Fee. Currently the fee breakdown goes like this $245 case filing fee, $45 miscellaneous administrative fee and $16 Trustee surcharge. This is according to the United States Courts website. Bringing the total to start your Chapter 7 up to $306.
Don’t Panic! There is a way to break that $306 into manageable payments. It is just a matter of adding the right form to your bankruptcy petition. You will have to make the 1st payment when turn over your bankruptcy petition into the courts. In some cases your lawyer could get the whole fee waived. Also remember your protection officially doesn’t start until your bankruptcy petition is filed with the court.
Side-note: A petition is not a complaint. Simply put when you are filing a petition you are saying one of 2 things to the court. ‘I have this problem that I need your help with.’ or ‘this is a bad thing and I think you need to look into it.’

Next week I’ll talk about Chapter 13. Which simply put means ‘Give some room to get my act together.’